Tags: Outsourcing | Lessons | From | India

Outsourcing Lessons From India

Friday, 01 June 2007 12:00 AM

It should have taken five minutes. OK, maybe 10.

I got my latest bill from Chase Credit Cards, and it included two things I'd never noticed before. One was a fee for $39, which was labeled my "Rewards Program Fee." I never knew Chase had a rewards program, much less one I paid a fee to participate in. I certainly don't remember signing up, or agreeing to another fee to encourage me to use their card.

There was also a "Flexible Rewards Summary," telling me that in addition to the 39 points I would get for paying the fee, I have thousands of old points that I never knew I had and must have accumulated over the 20-something years I've had a card from Chase.

"Does that mean we get a new TV?" my son asked hopefully.

Does that mean I get a vacation to somewhere, I thought hopefully.

I didn't have a clue, but in very little letters, the bill listed an 800 number to call to redeem my flexible rewards, plus a Web site where I could log on for 24-hour access to my rewards program.

Now granted, I only have 17 years of education, and I've only been teaching law for 26 years. Oh, yes, and I live on my computer, aided by a 14-year-old prodigy who happens to be my son. So I actually thought I could handle this, at least with my son's assistance. How wrong can you be?

First, I tried the Web site. In order to get any information, I needed an access code. I have no access code. I'm one of those old-fashioned types who still write checks. My bad.

I asked online for an access code. Sorry, they couldn't give me one because they didn't have my e-mail address. And I couldn't submit my e-mail address. In fact, I couldn't do anything.

Time to talk to a person. So I dialed the 800 number.

After entering my account number and my zip code twice, and sitting on hold because of the huge volume of calls that must be coming in at 11 p.m. Eastern time, I actually got a person on the phone. Unfortunately for me, it was not an American person. We could barely understand each other.

I tried speaking my clearest, the way I was taught to do when I used to read radio ads. No go. My request, which seemed simple to me (as in, What's this rewards program? and, How do I figure out which reward I'm eligible for?), was beyond either his knowledge or understanding.

Where are you, I asked him, before he transferred me to his colleague. There was a long pause. Chicago, he said. He didn't have a Midwestern drawl.

The next person was more honest.

She needed my help spelling such tricky words as "law" in my e-mail address. That's a stumper. But at least she didn't lie.

"Where are you?" I asked.

"India," she said.

"Where was the last man I talked to, the one who transferred me to you?"

"India," she said.

"So why did he say he was in Chicago?" I asked. Why did he lie?

"Would you like to speak to a supervisor?" she asked me. By now, half an hour had passed, my kids were getting ready for bed, and I was loaded for bear.

She transferred me to a supervisor, a Ms. Garcia in Texas. I explained the situation.

"We don't have a service center in Chicago," she told me.

"Obviously not," I said, "You have one in India, with people who are not quite up to the job." But what really got to me was the guy lying about where he was, covering up a practice of outsourcing that was turning a simple request into a ridiculous nightlong activity.

"I would like to speak to someone about your employees lying about their whereabouts to cover up outsourcing," I said, in my firmest lawyer/syndicated columnist voice. Polite, but firm.

Her response was simple: "No."

"No?" I asked incredulously. Isn't there someone with whom I may discuss this endless waste of time abbreviated by a bold lie that might very well suggest a company policy to hide its outsourcing behind dishonest employees?

"No," she said. "There is no one you can talk to, no one you can write to, no one you can get in touch with. I'll make note of your complaint, and you may (not will) receive a letter from someone in three to five business days."

"Who will write that letter?" I asked. "Perhaps I could write to them first."

"No," she said, "You can't."

Now, I hate to do this, particularly when all I'm trying to do is figure out whether to pay the $39 and whether I get anything worth $39 if I do, but I was not happy. "Listen, ma'am," I said, getting firmer by the moment, "I'm a syndicated columnist. I'm sure I'm not alone in facing these problems, or in worrying about the losses and costs of outsourcing, and I plan to write about this tomorrow. Now, is there anyone I could speak to?"

You know what she said? "No." And then we hung up.

I tried entering the access code the second woman had given me, but that only got me to the page with my bill on it. I didn't even ask the next person where he was. "Where is the list of rewards?" I asked, for the fourth time. He told me. It took 30 seconds.

The rewards program, by the way, stinks.

My toaster oven works just fine. You have to spend a fortune to get anything good. And believe me, that's one thing I have no plans of doing.

Let them push their lies in India. I'm done.



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It should have taken five minutes. OK, maybe 10. I got my latest bill from Chase Credit Cards, and it included two things I'd never noticed before. One was a fee for $39, which was labeled my "Rewards Program Fee." I never knew Chase had a rewards program, much less...
Friday, 01 June 2007 12:00 AM
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